Pair of wooden bodhisattvas
Song dynasty, 10th century AD
Among Buddhist figures, bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who chose to remain in the suffering world in order to help out the afflicted mankind. They usually appear as attendant figures with elaborate decoration. Unlike the modestly dressed Buddhas, bodhisattvas can be instantly recognized by their richly jewelled clothes.
This pair, more rounded and tactile than earlier sculpture, reflect the style of Buddhist imagery in the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906). Although wooden sculptures were mostly produced from the tenth to the fourteenth century, the elegant drapery line and naturalistic face are reminiscent of Tang period developments. The style changed during the Song dynasty (960-1278), when longer, stiffer bodies were more characteristic of Buddhist sculpture.